Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rust and Bone

Let me start off by saying that I grew up in a small country town in south Texas, so the fact that I even know how to read and write is a miracle within itself.  So you should not hold it against me that while growing up I envisioned everyone who went to see foreign films as either bored old men with nothing else to do or young teens who were just trying to find a private place to sneak in a quick hand job. Or maybe just old men who were looking to see teens get hand jobs in the theater; either way I never saw myself going to see a movie with subtitles. But thankfully I kept this view to myself until I got a little cultured; unlike my college friend from Kansas who upon her viewing of Schindler’s List provided this wonderful gem “Ugh! Why couldn’t they just film this in color?”.  I cant remember if she was twirling her hair while popping bubble gum when she said this but for the purposes of this review we’ll just say she did. 

If you have not seen Jacques Audiard’s prison epic A Prophet, then do yourself a favor and stream it from Netflix. It’s a bit of a time investment but it is well worth it as you get a feel for how Audiard takes his time in setting the tone for a film while simultaneously and subtly showing you how his protagonist is growing up right before your eyes. Sadly he doesn’t utilize the power of montages with You’re the Best Around blaring in the background but it’s effective none the less. 

Well in his latest offering Rust and Bone, he employs the same strategy as you are introduced to Alain and his son who are traveling to his sister’s to live. They are obviously poor as Alain has to go from train seat to train seat taking people’s leftover food and drinks to feed him and his son. Once they arrive at his sister’s he is able to get a job as a bouncer at a nightclub based upon his experience as a former boxer and kickboxer. His first night on the job he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) who he has to literally save from a random bar fight that she somehow got herself into. He initially doesn't think much of her until he drives her safely home and finds out that she happens to be a whale trainer. 

Soon after that night, Stephanie has a horrible accident on the job that causes her to lose both of her legs and in the process of recovery she also starts to lose her lease on life. She’s struggling to cope with the fact that she will longer be able to do the job she loves or even function like a normal person anymore. But somewhere along the way she decides to reach out to Alain for support, who to his credit, jumps at the opportunity. This is a bit surprising as he is a part time father. What I mean by this is sometimes he’s a pretty good dad but other times he completely neglects his kid. He is more caught up with banging random girls and re starting his boxing career via street fighting than he is in remembering to pick his kid up at school or to even spend any time with him at all. But it is through his boxing that leads to this strange relationship between him and Stephanie growing to a level that you wouldn’t expect. Soon he is doing things for her to help make her feel human again. I wont ruin what actually happens here for you, I will let you experience it on your own but Audiard once again sneaks in a boy growing into a man story right under your nose.

And if you have never seen Matthias Schoenaerts, he always plays the bull in a china shop role to perfection (see Bullhead). He is like this overgrown kid who simply stumbles through life and takes it for what it is, just one random experience after the other. And it’s because of this personality that makes almost every interaction between them so innocent and funny, so you never get bogged down into a sappy romantic drama. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of drama in this movie especially when disaster number two happens but it never seems forced. Everything that happens is necessary for growth in both of the main characters. Cotillard is solid in this film as she doesn’t have to worry about struggling with the English language and she can speak in her native tongue. She somehow still manages to look beautiful completely stripped of make up for the majority of the movie but don’t be fooled by her nude scene. It is clearly a body double as I know what big boobs look like when they lay flat and these were not hers. But she does a great job of showing her vulnerability that slowly grows to self confidence as she deals with her injury. 

Audiard per usual still sneaks in some political commentary in this film and it is his take on the haves vs the have nots that ultimately leads to the second disaster that takes place in this film. And it’s because of all of these elements that I am going to rate this movie as FRESH, body double and all! 

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